Serial Killer: George Howard Putt

By Chris Bunton

It was 1969, in Memphis, Tennessee when George Howard Putt showed up and went on a month long rape and murder spree. Folks who lived at the time said that this was one of the scariest summers they could remember. The tensions were so high and no one knew where the savage killer would strike next.

George seems to be one of these guys who became a criminal at a very young age.

He was born in New Orleans in March of 1946. He came into a family of petty criminals and drifters, who abused him and his siblings.  Eventually his parents ended up in prison. He and his siblings were sent to North Carolina to live with relatives.

His family in North Carolina could not take care of them, and they were sent to an orphanage in Richmond, Virginia.

Before his 18th birth day he had already committed robberies, rapes and kidnappings, along with home invasions.

He was locked up in several juvenile facilities for these crimes.

He moved around the south alot living in Texas, Mississippi, and eventually Memphis, Tennessee where he met his brother’s pregnant ex-girlfriend, Mary Bulimore, and fell in love.

A few weeks later they got married, and had the baby naming him George Jr.

They then moved to Tupelo, Mississippi where George was arrested and locked up for burglary.

Then in May of 1969 he escaped from a Mississippi work camp. He took his family, and moved to Memphis, Tennessee.

On August 14th, he killed his first victims. Ray and Bernalyn Dumas, at their apartment on Cooper St. They were found by their son, Michael.

On August 25th, George killed 80 year old Leila Jackson, on Somerville. After the killings of Bernalyn and Leila, Putt placed a lamp shining on their bodies. It has not been explained, why.

It is said that, on the evening of Leila Jackson’s murder, ” George Howard Putt showed his wife the afternoon paper and said, “Remember that old lady I tried to rent the room from over near the Terrace Hotel? That Mrs. Jackson? Remember her? Somebody killed her just like that Dumas couple! There must be some kind of really bad nut loose in this town.”

His next victim was Glenda Sue Harden, she was killed on Aug. 29th and her body was found in Riverside Park. She was 21 years old.

Then on Sept. 11th. Putt went after his last victim, at an apartment at 41 N. Bellevue. 

He attacked Christine Pickins, and was stabbing her as she let out a scream that alerted the neighbors.

Henry Currie, and Wayne Armstrong responded. They gave chase, shooting at Putt, and chasing him in a car.

The police came and officers Glenn Noblin and Phil Scruggs made the arrest on Linden Avenue.

Putt ended up getting a 497 year sentence. These long sentences are often done to ensure the killer never gets out, and to also make sure each victim gets justice.

He died in prison on October 26th 2015.

I traveled to Memphis recently and went around trying to locate some of the sites associated with George Howard Putt.

The summer of 1969 was terrifying for the city, as a mad man went around raping and killing without any rhyme or reason.

It has been said that Putt was more of a spree killer, than a serial killer. There seems to be something that makes criminally minded people snap and cross over. The Yard has reported on spree killers in the past such as Raymond Lee Stewart.

The first place I went to find was 642 Bethel. This was where Putt was living with his wife Mary at the time of the killings. The house appeared to have been recently renovated, and was the nicest home on the block.

The home George Howard Putt lived in during the murders, as it looks today. 2023

The rest of the sites were difficult to find or had been torn down. Several had been turned into parking lots. It’s also difficult to show places and not have proven sources that this was the actual home or apartment. Imagine someone saying your home was the location of a murder, when it was actually a few houses down. Sometimes, we can prove it, but others we are not sure of.

Street Sign near where Leila Jackson was murdered.

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Further Reading and Sources:

Bio: Chris Bunton is a writer, poet, and blogger from Southern Illinois. He has written the serial killer articles posted on The Yard.

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Publishing Editor for The Yard: Crime Blog.

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